Monday, August 15, 2011

    Humanists Clean Up Tempe Beach Park

    On August 13, volunteers from the Arizona Coalition of Reason completed a second day of labor towards a long-term commitment to the Tempe Parks and Recreation department to keep Tempe Beach Park clean. Sixteen volunteers showed up to pick up litter and pull weeds in the adopt a park program.

    Most volunteers hailed from the Phoenix Atheists Meetup group, such as Brad Stephenson who drove up from Casa Grande. This was Stephenson's first involvement with the group and he came to “feel involved with a group outside of [work].” Stephenson works for the CCA private prison in Florence and enjoyed being part of something greater with like-minded individuals.

    Kerri and Jake, members of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix drove from downtown Phoenix to be part of the community. They and the other 16 volunteers worked hard to collect about three bags of litter and weeds.

    The weather was supportive, with cloud cover and cooler morning temperatures. And work only slowed when members struck on a topic of conversation in which a mutual passion for a shared truth proved too great to table for later.  The next Tempe Beach Park clean up hasn't been announced yet, but may be in two months.

    Contributed by Richard Conaway.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Profiles in Humanism: Jerry & Judy Walp

    HSGP members Jerry and Judy Walp have patterned their retirement after that of a Roman emperor. If this conjures up images of a toga-wearing couple lounging around sipping wine you’re thinking of the wrong emperor. The Walp’s model was Diocletian, the 51st Emperor of the Roman Empire who famously retired to tend his vegetable garden.

    Jerry and Judy’s Diocletian Garden is not only a source of pride and enjoyment but is an example of Humanists doing good in the community through their contributions to food banks in Maricopa and Casa Grande.

    Jerry spent his working career as an industrial engineer and Judy was an elementary teacher working in special education. But Jerry had fond memories of the Ohio farm where he grew up so when the couple retired, they moved from Colorado to a parcel of land near the town of Maricopa and began to cultivate it. Master Gardener classes helped them learn how much different the growing seasons are in Arizona from those in Colorado and Ohio. As Judy says, “Here we plant while everything in Ohio is covered in snow.”

    Experimentation taught them what grows best on their plot of land and when to plant it. Then Jerry and Judy started selling their vegetables at a local farmers’ market, preparing their produce for sale, transporting it to the market, competing with others who sold what they had not grown themselves. After a few years the Walps decided it was more satisfying to skip the hassles of retailing and give their bounty to those who might not otherwise have access to fresh, healthy food like the beets, carrots, broccoli, chard, cabbage, tomatoes, melons, squash, peppers, onions and garlic that they grow at various times of the year. This year they expect to donate about 13,000 pounds of fresh produce to the food banks.

    Judy says “We do it because we like to garden. It is very satisfying to watch the little seedlings sprout and the plants produce. It is a healthy lifestyle. We get sunshine, exercise and good things to eat.”

    And they get the satisfaction of sharing some of that healthy lifestyle with others in their community.

    Contributed by Linda Wendler.